While Marshall Crenshaw's first two releases were self-contained efforts, built around his voice, guitar, and songwriting, and the rhythm section/backing vocals of Chris Donato and brother Robert Crenshaw, his third, Downtown, brought an assortment of studio hands on board without really sacrificing what makes him special. Following a return to a scaled-down configuration for the slightly disappointing Mary Jean & 9 Others, Good Evening, like Downtown, employs the services of various sidemen and backup vocalists -- including Kenny Aronoff, Graham Maby, Syd Straw, Robert Crenshaw, and the BoDeans -- and seems to be geared towards a more contemporary, marketable sound. Producers David Kershenbaum and Paul McKenna bring a veneer to his pop/rock, adding the occasional keyboard, steel guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and accordion, while Crenshaw, for the first time, brings in a handful of ringers (Sonny Landreth, David Lindley, and James Burton) to share lead guitar chores for the majority of the record. Furthermore, for the first time, he looks elsewhere for the bulk of the record's material, with half of the songs coming from other sources (two seemingly written to order), and three of the remaining five being collaborations. Still, he slips naturally into the words and music of artists such as Richard Thompson, John Hiatt, the Isley Brothers, and Bobby Fuller, bringing as much of himself to these tunes as he does to his own. Whatever the reason for the delegation of work on Good Evening, the choices are good ones, and it works to varying degrees. Good Evening, which was his final recording for Warner Bros., may not reach the heights of the first three, but there's a spark here that was missing last time out.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Brett Hartenbach